By Vivian Ramirez
Smokers at East Los Angeles College will no longer be able to light up in non-designated smoking areas, as the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees standardized the smoking policy last week to help cite violators.
The amendment of current policy results from growing pressure from students and non-smoking organizations to reduce smoking at school. Former district policy dictates that no student or employee can smoke within 20 feet of any public building, entrance, moveable window, walkway or exit. However, designated smoking areas were provided for around the campus.
These laws were up to the college’s discretion, and therefore varied greatly by college. Until last week, there was no standardized smoking policy for all nine LACCD campuses. The proposal was introduced in December by The District Sheriffs Oversight Committee and was proposed for revision in February by Vice Chancellor Adrianna Barrera.
The Board of Trustees determined that all nine colleges shall permit smoking in designated areas by each college’s Work Environment Committee or another appropriate committee. No more than four smoking areas are to be designated and each area must be clearly identified on college maps. These new policies must be enacted within six months by all colleges.
Another bill was enacted last year to enforce smoking within designated areas, stating that any violator can be cited by the college. This law permits each college to issue $100 fines for first, second, third or fourth offenses. However, whether this law was actually enforced by the Sheriffs is a topic of discussion at ELAC. Since the Sheriffs are mandated to enforce state laws, not Board policies, they technically do not have to issue citations to smokers.
Therefore, the appropriate person to contact concerning violators would be the ELAC Vice President of Educational Services, Oscar Valeriano. However, an informal visual survey of the campus will identify Elans who break this rule all the time anyway. It is not unusual to see students smoking near buildings or next to walkways in between classes. Many students claim that the designated smoking areas, one by the Husky statue and one west of the lunch truck, is an unreasonable distance to walk during breaks for a smoke.
As a result, students are smoking all over ELAC. If more than two smoking areas are designated, it may alleviate this situation. The new standardized law is a result of grievances from students throughout the LACCD.
ELACs respiratory therapy students hosted a demonstration to show the negative impacts of smoking on the lungs last month. They also took surveys from ELAC students and asked if they’d like ELAC to be a smoke-free campus. Currently, West Los Angeles College and Santa Monica College maintain smoke-free campuses.